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Conjugal Visits and Castration Punishment Ethics


The following paper is aimed at reviewing the controversial topics of conjugal visitation and the chemical/surgical castration of sex offenders. The paper establishes plausibility of conjugal visits implementation and argues for the efficacy of castration. Findings from relevant research and logical reasoning are used to back up the solutions on both subjects.

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Conjugal visits

Across the U.S., the number of states allowing prison visits is comparatively modest, and perhaps not unreasonably. On the other hand, conjugal visits can turn out to be beneficial for convicts and other parties involved. To consider adopting this procedure, one should initially make some research and consider the strengths and weaknesses of conjugal visitation programs.

Firstly, one needs some information on the general impact of conjugal visits on the inmates’ physical and mental well-being. Secondly, one has to find out if there is a correlation between prison rape (which is a pressing issue) or recidivism after release. Recent research on the subject shows that prison rape, for one, can be regarded as one of the consequences of prohibiting conjugal visits and suppressed sexuality (Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson 2013). Another consequence is increased sexual impulsiveness, as evidenced by research among female prisoners (Baltieri, 2014). The same findings indicate the inmates’ mood decline, depression, and drug abuse while in prison.

Albeit the evidence, one can expect the opposing views to concern moral, legal, and financial aspects of conjugal visitation practices. Firstly, prison should be strict on convicts who have rejected their rights by surpassing the law. Besides, visitors can facilitate crime within prisons by smuggling. Additionally, conjugal visitations would most certainly result in extra taxation to provide prisoners and visitors with privacy, security, etc.

To refute these objections, one can suppose that the right to visits can only be gained by good behavior – which would motivate the convicts to comply with rules. Another point is that the partners’ visits can potentially decrease the rate of prison rape while simultaneously enhancing the convicts’ well-being. Finally, visits from the family can motivate them to rehabilitate more actively. Thus, the program is worth implementing and should be further thought through.


To estimate the effectiveness of the castration of sex offenders, one should consider two perspectives. Physiologically, castration is known to be effective for most offenders – excluding psychopaths, sociopaths, and those who are not paraphilic (Douglas, Bonte, Focquaert, Devolder, & Sterckx, 2013).

For those who are sane and consistently have socially unaccepted desires, the practice can be effective. Specifically, in extreme cases – when sex offenders are themselves burdened with their deviance – castration can be offered either in replacement of prison term or upon release. It is sufficient in both suppressing their desires and protecting the society they function in.

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Both chemical and surgical castration have their drawbacks in that they can cause physical impairments in the offender. Namely, the effects include andropause, depression, obesity, hormonal imbalance, feminization, and mineral shortage in bone tissue (Douglas et al., 2013). Apart from these physiological aspects, critics of castration often insist it is a breach of personal autonomy. It can be argued, however, that castration is a supportive law because it potentiates autonomy. Autonomy is a person’s ability to govern (control and command). In persons affected by sexual deviance, such ability is impaired. Castration, therefore, eradicates the problem at the root, enabling these persons to function autonomously.


Baltieri, D. A. (2014). Predictors of drug use in prison among women convicted of violent crimes. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 24(2), 113-128.

Douglas, T., Bonte, P., Focquaert, F., Devolder, K., & Sterckx, S. (2013). Coercion, Incarceration, and Chemical Castration: An Argument From Autonomy. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 10(3), 393-405.

Struckman-Johnson, C., & Struckman-Johnson, D. (2013). Stopping Prison Rape: The Evolution of Standards Recommended by PREA’s National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The Prison Journal, 93(3), 335-354.

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